Proposed NBN FttN products may be misleading: ACCC

NBN Co's proposal to retain the existing high-speed products for fibre to the node despite potential speed issues could be misleading, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

NBN Co's proposal to retail service providers to retain the existing speed tiers across fibre to the premises to the fibre to the node/fibre to the basement services may draw the attention of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) if it fails to live up to the speed promises.

As part of the shift to the so-called multi-technology mix model for the National Broadband Network as directed by Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, NBN Co will need to develop new product sets for retail service providers to onsell to customers across fibre to the node, fibre to the building, and hybrid fibre-coaxial.

According to a discussion paper distributed at NBN Co's product development forum with retail service providers such as Telstra, Optus, and iiNet, NBN Co has suggested it will retail the existing speed tiers at 12Mbps/1Mbps, 25Mbps/5Mbps, 50Mbps/10Mbps, and 100Mbps/40Mbps as currently exists on fibre to the premises today.

The caveat will be that the 50Mbps and 100Mbps products will offer "up to" those speeds, indicating that the speed seen by the end user will be subject to the quality of the copper line from the node to the premises.

NBN Co will also seek to absolve itself from responsibility for the line speed achieved by customers, according to reports, with the company stating in the discussion paper that "selecting the correct speed tier will be the responsibility of the end user and the provider."

The company has said it will not prevent users from ordering the "up to 100Mbps" service for lines that get speeds lower than 50Mbps, even if the 50Mbps tier comes at a lower price.

Facing questioning from former Communications Minister Stephen Conroy in Budget Estimates this morning, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said he hadn't seen the discussion paper but said that Conroy's description — a 38Mbps FttN service being sold as 100Mbps — may be misleading for retail service providers to sell such a product.

"At its face, that would be misleading," he said.

Conroy suggested it was fraud, but Sims said he would respond at a later time after examining the paper.

"I'll take it on notice, Senator. Under our terms, it is misleading."

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